Malvena Gallatin

Gallatin, Malvena453
Malvena Gallatin. Courtesy of Wyn Wachhorst

This is certainly a tale of two Gallatins—Albert and Malvena. Last year I wrote about Albert and how he acquired the properties around Eagle Lake primarily for ranching purposes, i.e, summer grazing range. Malvena saw the lake for its aesthetic and recreational attributes. While she could have easily denied public access to the south shore, after all she owned nearly all of it, along with some 40 miles of shoreline, she did not. The south shore that later became known as Gallatin Beach was popular with the locals. This was to her benefit, more lake visitors equaled more complaints about the road conditions to the south shore. In 1913, she did a first at Eagle Lake—she built a summer home. More about the Gallatin House in the future. Yet, it was the increasing water level at Eagle Lake, that she accommodated Leon Bly and his proposed project to tap the lake to provide a water supply for the Honey Lake Valley. Years later she had regrets when the lake level dropped so low, reducing her property values. She sued and lost, to prevent further tapping of the lake. After all she had plans to sale the property, in the 1930s, for over a million dollars to developers for a recreational resort. The reason she lost was that the agreement she signed with Bly, the lake had not reached agreed upon lake level, but then no one thought the lake would ever drop so low.

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